Harvest Work Is More Than Just Picking

When most people think of the work that goes into harvesting wine grapes, picking is the first thing to come to mind. But there are other jobs for the vineyard crew during harvest.


When picking grapes by hand at Riverbench Vineyard in Santa Maria, California, a manager in charge of inspecting and sorting each cluster is assigned to every crew of 6 to 8 people. A tractor pulls a series of large bins that can hold several tons of grapes.


The field manager looks out for leaves and “MOG,” materials other than grapes, usually with a high powered headlamp, since most harvesting happens at night when sugar levels remain consistent. Aside from removing non-fruit material from the bins, the manager will actually inspect individual clusters, clearing out any berries that are underripe or otherwise unsuitable.


The early morning fog creeps in from the ocean in the Santa Maria Valley. As the sun rises, headlamp lights go off and the job of inspecting the incoming fruit gets a little easier.


As the fog burns off from the morning sun, the vineyard crew finishes for the day. These grapes will head to the winery where they are table sorted a second time before beginning their transformation into wine.